Upgrade Time! (iPad Pro 2018 12.9" model + Apple Pencil 2)

Posted on November 9, 2018

Longtime user of the iPad Pro as my work tablet here! I've been using the previous iPad Pro 12.9" 2nd generation with the Apple Pencil this past year and it's been a great experience thus far -- I'm a fan of the larger screen size as I work from home and am often tethered to my (2013) iMac to use apps like Photoshop CC via Astropad Studio. I also use iPad native apps like Linea and Procreate and Clip Studio for iPad to do some illustrations and comic drafts. With the recent news of the new Apple line-up...


It's upgrade time!



In comes the new 2018 12.9" iPad Pro -- first things first, It's surprisingly smaller than the previous model, with the same screen size. The flat edges and smaller frame fit nicely onto my Elevation Lab stand. In fact, the magnets on the back of the iPad Pro also provide an added secureness by sticking to the metal stand. (Although I wouldn't advise using the magnets to stick your iPad Pro to a refrigerator as I've seen some folks do on twitter...)


The retina screen with true tone display is nice and crisp. (I'm a little sad that I'll be covering mine soon with a screen protector - a little more on that later.) The disappearance of the home button makes for some early awkward moments where I reach for the button to switch between apps. But! It's not unlike using one of the newer iPhones. Just takes a little getting used to.


The lightning port is gone, replaced with a single USB-C port. Great for accessories and faster charging, but it also means I need to invest in some new cables:

  1. I need a USB-A to USB-C cable with data transfer capabilities to connect my (2013) iMac with my new iPad Pro for Astropad Studio tethering. It's just a faster, more stable connection when I use a program like Photoshop CC.
  2. I need a longer USB-C to USB-C cable to reach my power strip on the floor. The 18W brick the iPad Pro comes with is nice, but for optimum charging, especially if you work on the go, you'd probably want one of the 30W ones meant for laptops.

Now, with the removal of the lightning port, this means the old Apple Pencil is not usable with this new model. There is no way to pair it or charge it from the device. Likewise, the new Apple Pencil 2 isn't compatible with other iPad models. The Apple Pencil 2 connects to the side of the iPad Pro frame and simultaneously connects and charges the device automatically. There is even a nice little confirmation on the screen that lets you know it paired properly.



The Apple Pencil 2 is a nice upgrade from the old Pencil design. The body is slightly shorter -- much more like a #2 pencil. It's still cylindrical, but narrower than the original pencil, with a matte finish. Aside from preventing rolling, the bevelled edge also allows that special double tap feature on the side to switch between tools. Note that this feature is not automatic in all apps yet -- I've noticed it mainly in the Apple notes app so far -- and will likely be added to other apps in when they are updated. I look forward customizing that function for various apps - not unlike the Wacom stylus buttons.


The other unique function of the new iPad Pro is the introduction of Face ID and wow- it is fast. When I had to re-sign into all of my various accounts, using Face ID is so much more convenient, especially when doubled with the new iOS feature of connecting an app like 1Password to auto-fill the username and password fields. In some ways, it feels even faster than my phone.


My "stress testing" has been rather limited as I don't have my screen protector on yet, but I've done a few quick sketch tests in my drawing apps and some comic layout tests in Clip Studio for the iPad. There are times when my older model iPad Pro would "chug along" somewhat when attempting to use the vector-style tools in Clip Studio - particularly drawing balloons and adjusting text. Fixing little details on curves and text placement became a rather frustrating task I'd just end up doing on my iMac to save me the headache.

So far, with the new iPad Pro, things feel more snappy and responsive, which is a huge relief. I'll have to report back later once I start drawing a few Blue Hawaii comic strips!


As for the headphone jack -- I can't say I use it enough to miss it, particularly since I switched to AirPods. I don't record music or video with external devices, so maybe I'm not the best person to ask in this regard? The only time I'd miss it is if I had to use my Square card reader, but I have other devices -- older iPads, my phone with the lightning port dongle, the wireless card reader, etc to get around it.



All in all, I'm really pleased with this update! I haven't had a chance to really work on it as I've yet to pick up a screen protector to preserve the display. While the Apple Pencil is designed to not scratch the screen of the iPad, the dust and grime that collects on the surface -can- scratch up the screen... (as I've learned from experience...) so just to be on the safe side, I'm going to play things conservative on this investment.


In short -- if you have the previous edition iPad Pro, it's a nice but pricy upgrade. Old cables, accessories, etc won't work on it and will likely require you to purchase all new accessories, including the new Apple Pencil 2, which has gone up in price a bit. If you can spare the cash for the upgrade by selling your older model and pencil, I think you'd be pleased by all the new features.

If you're looking to make the switch from a different platform/brand, this is a great time to jump in. With the A12X Bionic chip with Neural Engine and super fast Face ID, things just run fast, smooth, and effortless.

If you've got any questions or thoughts to share, drop me a message! In the meanwhile, back to the drawing board for me! ♥

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